Plans to transform an iconic Liverpool city centre building into a luxury hotel are to be submitted early next year.
Owners of the former George Henry Lee department store say its “unique architectural features will be retained and restored”.
A planning application for a change of use has been submitted to Liverpool City Council with a more detailed full planning application due early in the new year.
Applicant Niboco is proposing a change of use from retail to a hotel with a restaurant, bar, gym, office space and basement casino/nightclub.
The application follows a series of recent pop-up uses for the building which included an art exhibition and a retail operation by local children’s charity KIND.
Martin Doherty, of the Doherty family which ran Rapid Hardware, says: “When we purchased this iconic building and moved the Rapid retail business, being a local, Liverpool family, we were well aware of its heritage and as such we didn’t want to see such a beautiful and historic building left empty and fall into decay following the departure of John Lewis to Liverpool ONE.
“The building has a very special place in the memories and affections of Liverpool people and we have been working hard to ensure its future for many years to come.”
The conversion and redevelopment will be delivered through a joint venture alongside investment property company Williamson Holding, which is also behind the restoration of another Liverpool landmark, the art deco Gostins Building on Hanover Street.
‘The Williamson’, as it is referred to in the plans, would feature 157 bedrooms.
Nick O’Prey, a spokesperson for Williamson Holding, adds: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Dohertys to help them realise an exciting vision for this stunning building.
“They deserve an enormous amount of credit for their determination to preserve this important piece of Liverpool heritage. Jointly, we intend to deliver a development of exceptional quality and originality.”